Are Your Sign-Up Forms Killing Your Growth?

September 9, 2014

When it comes to SaaS signup processes, marketers generally fall into one of two camps — those all for getting as much info as possible, and those all for removing friction at all costs.

How much signup process friction is too much? This is an important question facing many B2B marketers as they design trial and freemium SaaS sign-up processes. Trying to balance the value of gathering prospect information against the costs of the signup process deterring prospects from completing the sign-up process is difficult.
There is no right answer to this question. In fact, the answer to this question will be dependent on the buyers, types of service you are providing and how the competition is managing its sign-up process. And if you ask marketers from two different camps, they may come up with a different answer given the same situation. Your decision will have a significant impact on your company’s go-to-market strategy.  So it is well worth your time to put some real thought into this question and its potential impact on your go-to-market strategy.
The most common arguments made by each camp are summarized below:

The Case for Getting Information While You Can

  • Information you collect on front-end of customer acquisition process can be very valuable in helping your company more effectively identify the characteristics that lead to a great customer, so you can get more targeted with your go-to market strategy.  This information if properly leveraged will lead to more profitable customers down the road and higher conversion rates later in the sales process.
  • Information gathered during the signup process can be leveraged to develop a more personalized prospect nurturing strategy.  If done effectively, this will lead to a better conversion rate from trial to customer.
  • If a customer is not willing to spend a couple minutes filling out your signup form, then they may not have much need for your service.  Their lack of willingness to fill-out the sign-up form consequently acts as a screener to remove lower quality opportunities.

Counter Argument: A Friction-Free SaaS Signup Process

  • B2B SaaS Signup FormFriction creates resistance, so requiring more of visitors to sign-up can scare them away.  Signing-up for a trial or freemium version of your product happens early-on in the relationship building process consequently a prospects willingness to share information may be limited because their interest level may not be fully mature.  Scaring away prospects that are in the “get to know you phase” can mean losing out on great potential customer opportunities.
  • If you are not personalizing your messaging based on the information you collect from your prospects, then you are creating unnecessary friction in the signup process. An overburdening signup process will lead to subscriber fatigue, which results in higher signup abandonment rates.  Startups in many situations will not have a sophisticated enough marketing program to leverage this information, which makes collecting the additional subscriber information more costly.
  • B2B SaaS Trial Signup FormThere are other means to learn most of the information about your prospects after they sign-up that will be less burdensome. xBelow are some examples of alternative approaches to gather information about your prospects without over –burdening them with information requirements during the sign-up process.
  • Progressive information collection process:  Hold-off on asking for information from the subscriber until they dig-in and start using your product and then progressively collect the information from them over time.  Prospects will be more willing to share information once they see under the hood of your product and see how it could help them.
  • Social Sign-up via LinkedIn: Have prospects sign-in with their LinkedIn id and password, so you minimize information requirements for prospects to fill-out, while at same time get access to the most accurate information on the prospect.  Some prospects will be unwilling to sign-in using a social login as they know doing so shares their profile information.  Consequently, it may be best to just offer this as an option.
  • Corporate Email Only: Requiring only a corporate email is a good option as it requires minimal friction and provides you a data point you can use to back-out employment and role information.
  • Optional Information Fields: Not requiring prospects to fill-out entire form is an option, but not an ideal one in my book.  The long form is still intimidating and will scare off visitors, and at same time not guarantee that you get information from the subscribers.

There is no right or wrong approach to a SaaS Signup Process.  The answer really will depend on your buyers and their specific preferences.  The key to success with this decision is getting to know your buyer’s preferences and understanding your own capability to use this information to improve the customer experience.
If you find yourself sitting on the fence, I recommend using an A/B test to try-out a couple different variations of the process to see which one works out best with your buyers.
Image by Johann Dreo

Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy

<strong>Brandon Hickie</strong> is Marketing Manager, Pricing Strategy at <a href="">LinkedIn</a>. He previously worked at OpenView as Marketing Insights Manager. Prior to OpenView Brandon was an Associate in the competition practice at Charles River Associates where he focused on merger strategy, merger regulatory review, and antitrust litigation.